Back in last April, we had an impromptu trip to Semporna region of Sabah, despite a kidnap that just happened in March. We could not resist the super cheap air fare, and bought it. A girl gave up on the trip, but the rest of us persisted. Applause to XT, Alfred, Pan, Gerry and me!
We did not try to hide from our boss that we were going on the same trip. Me and my colleagues / teammates:
Before we reached the town of Semporna, the palm oil plantation from the airport to the town broke my imagination of a Sabah with pristine forest. Deeply saddened to see how Sabah forest has been damaged to this extent. Few years ago, when Marcus drove us all to the Tip of Borneo from Kota Kinabalu, I do not recall seeing any palm oil tree. Two or three hours of journey, and it was all palm oil plantation.
Semporna is a town, that resembles a very typical laid-back Malaysian town. Signs of tourism boom could be seen, with hotels and hostels springing up near the seaside area, and tourists walking in their snorkelling gear or swim suit on the streets. There was nothing much in this town, after dinner we just spent our evening playing San Guo Sha card game that Gerry brought along.
We stayed in Summer Friends homestay, which owned by a Chinese, Mr Yong, and his family of Bajau-Chinese descendants, who helped to arrange for airport transport, boat transfer to Mabul island and the homestay. It's a very homely homestay that is supported by stilts with the Celebes sea just below the floor / wooden planks. The sea just below the homestay was crystal clear too, with a tint of turquoise but I could see that the water was not really clean. How nice if we could let our city mindset that cares too much about cleanliness out of our way and jump into the sea and play like all the children of the Mabul village did.
Mr Yong's son, Xiao Yang, with his friendly charm, who hung out with us and guided us to the snorkel trips.
On the rooftop of Summer Friends Homestay, under the starry sky, we just could not help ourselves to play with all these long exposure photos. On the rooftop with all the stars above us, the air was cool, and we laid down on the wooden planks there and talked to each other. It was one of those quality moments that staying in a luxurious resort doesn't give you.
The Kapalai resort snorkel was actually the best among all the snorkels I had on the island.
Mr Yong's wife, a local Bajau lady was like a kind mother too. While I fainted there, possibly due to heatstroke, Xiao Yang and aunty applied oil and let me drink the rehydration salt solution.
Just outside the homestay, it's Mabul village that is interesting to walk about. The island is very very small, which possibly only took less than an hour to circle the island on a casual pace. Walking in the village was like having an experience of time travelling to older time. The village retained so much Kampung feel. The locals were very friendly too, smiling at us as our eyes met.
Now I know Gerry loves cats.
We wandered into a school, with view like this just beside the school. Do the school children jump into the sea when they feel like it or they risk being scolded by teachers? Feel like I should have brought along a towel so that I can just swim for a little bit here!
Before the trip, I started brain-washing XT and Pan that cold shower is good for health, I think I failed to have their mind changed.